U.S. employers added 209,000 non-farm jobs in July, beating economists' predictions of healthy gains of around 180,000 jobs and continuing a trend of strong hiring this year. The improvement came after a surge of 222,000 new jobs in June. The unemployment rate edged down to 4.3 percent from 4.4 percent last month. The improving employment picture suggests that the path is clear for the Federal Reserve to start next month to reduce the massive bond portfolio it piled up to help the economy recover following the 2008 financial crisis. The jobs report helped U.S. stock futures hang onto light gains early Friday, signaling another strong start for the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which edged up on Thursday to remain above 22,000 and set a seventh straight record.